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News for 14 December 2020

All the news for Monday 14 December 2020

Racing secure vital win to snatch last Belgian men’s top eight spot

Racing Club de Bruxelles won the battle for the final playoff place from the Belgian Honor Division as they beat Herakles 1-0 to sneak into the top eight on the last day of this phase of the season.

Saturday’s results left Racing in ninth place with only a win being enough to knock Herakles out of contention.

Ed Horler gave the Bruxellois an eighth minute lead which proved crucial, putting the final stick to a bit of ping-pong in front of Amaury Timmermans’ cage.

Jeremy Gucassoff kept out two Herakles’ corners while Conor Harte was unable to make a penalty count before half-time.

With their greater need for the next goal, Herakles applied the pressure but Nicolas de Kerpel’s corners could not find the mark nor could Nick Haig whose late effort was repelled by Gucassoff.

La Gantoise finished the first half of the season with a 12th win out of 13, impressing with a 3-0 success against Léopold with Etienne Tynevez, Antoine Kina and Juan Saladino getting the goals.  

They top the table ahead of Waterloo Ducks who swept by Old Club 9-1; Orée beat Daring 3-1 to move up to 30 points in third place with Léo fourth. Dragons made it a six point weekend with a 6-0 away win over Namur to land fifth place.

Leuven finished this phase in sixth with all their goals coming from Irish players in a 3-1 success against Antwerp, Luke Madeley netting two with Sean Murray getting the other. Beerschot took seventh with a 3-1 away success against Braxgata.  

Euro Hockey League media release

Aura’s crucial strike earns Egara 18th Copa del Rey title

Club Egara won the 2020 Copa del Rey thanks to a thrilling 3-2 final win over Club de Campo in Valencia with David Aura’s 61st minute goal the decisive moment.

Campo got off to a dream start with José Basterra scoring from a penalty corner in just the third minute, a rocket corner into the net.

Egara equalised before the end of the first quarter with Pau Quemada replying from another corner just before the first break.

Two minutes later, Pere Divorra put Egara in front for the first time but their joy did not last long as Álvaro Tello, with an accurate shot, balanced the scoreline at 2-2 in the 21st minute.

And that is how it stayed for the next 40 minutes with goalkeepers Quico Cortés and Mario Garín producing a series of good saves.

The last quarter continued with the same script until David Aura was precise with a hit to put the side from Pla del Bon Aire ahead.

Although Pablo Usoz’s men tried, the good saves by his goalkeeper and the rest of his defense confirmed the 18th Cup title for the Catalan team.

Campo’s Enrique González de Castejón was named played of the tournament while Quico Cortés got best goalkeeper.   José Basterra (Club de Campo) and Pau Quemada (Club Egara) were joint top goalscorers.

Euro Hockey League media release

Serrahima strikes for Junior FC in famous Copa de la Reina victory

Junior FC won the IBERDROLA Copa de la Reina for the second time in their history as they got the better of Club de Campo 2-1 in the final in Valencia, ending the Madrid club’s reign.

Campo had the early rhythm but, in the fifth minute, Junior took the lead from a qucik counter-attack with Mariona Serrahima breaking the deadlock. The Madrid club continued to push on but the Catalan club kept out a penalty corner on the first quarter hooter, to stay in front.

Campo did get back on terms and got the equaliser amid a melée from the stick of Begoña García in the 21st minute.

Junior bounced back and went close in the final moments of the half with Carlota Petchame denied by María Ángeles Ruiz.

The Sant Cugat side carried that momentum into the second half and returned to the lead in the 42nd minute, Serrahima getting her and her club’s second goal.

An intense final quarter saw Campo produce a number of scares but Junior held on for a famous win. Along with the victory, Gigi Oliva was named player of the tournament, Berta Serrahima the player of the final and Mariona Serrahima was top scorer.  

Mariona Girabent, from Club Egara, earned the best goalkeeper award.

Euro Hockey League media release

Another great round of North Conference hockey as year draws to a close

As the year draws to a close it is the Gordonians club who top the Scottish North Conference; the women had a narrow 1-0 win over Ellon to open up a nine point gap while the men maintained their 100% record after beating Granite City Wanderers 4-1 to move three points ahead with a game less played.

However, there were a few milestones to be recorded – there was the first draw in the North Conference after several weeks of competition and Ellon men got off the mark with a point against Aberdeen Grammar FPs.

Gordonians might be at the top of the women`s competition, but this time they were restricted to a single goal by a gritty Ellon outfit. This was their third win over the Aberdeenshire club, but this time it was a lot closer.

The only goal of the contest came in the first quarter, Ailsa Phimister latched on to a rebound at a penalty corner and fired a reverse stick shot into the corner of the net.

Gordonians continued to edge the first half and should have gone further ahead but several chances slipped by. Ellon came more into the contest after the interval with Gracie Grey-Giles creating havoc up the right wing but her crosses into the circle seemed to elude her colleagues, and so did the equaliser.

The post-match reaction from the captains was somewhat in contrast. Gordonians` Rebecca Murray said: “Definitely not our best performance today but good to finish with a win.”

Ellon captain Louise Gordon remarked: “We really enjoyed the game and felt like Ellon made them work hard for the win. It felt really close, we would have loved the win but a draw would have been a fair result.

“All I asked of the team was them to give it their all, and they did me proud”

In the other game Granite City Wanderers triumphed 3-0 over Aberdeen University and moved up to the nine point mark, just three behind Ellon with two games less played.

Gordonians can hardly be grudged pole position in the men`s Conference as their 4-1 win over rivals Granite City Wanderers kept alive their 100% record and a three point lead, and that with a game in hand.

Sustained early pressure from the Countesswells outfit finally paid off when John Hamilton reacted quickly at a penalty corner situation and put away the opener. Soon after it was 2-0, Harry Leggett embarked on a smart run and finished by wrong-footing the keeper.

Early in the second half Stu Begg pulled one back for Granite City, and they might have had an equaliser but for a left-handed save by keeper Andrew Moody to preserve Gordonians 2-1 lead.

However, Gordonians pulled away in the final quarter, youngster Louis Roddy made it 3-1, then the same youngster laid on an excellent pass for Peter Serle to add a fourth with a deflection.

Gordonians` John Hamilton was quick to lay praise. “Worthy of mention were Tommaso Gambro and James Dick who didn`t get on the score sheet but the 16 and 17 year olds continued their fantastic form.”

A delighted coach Adam Walker remarked: “We`ve been able to use the North Conference to develop our squad and it is optimistic for the future. Thanks to Scottish Hockey for finding a way to get us on the pitch this year.”

The Ellon v Aberdeen Grammar FPs ended in a 1-1 draw and also in monsoon conditions at Meadows Sports Centre. The visitors took the lead in the first quarter, at their first penalty corner Gavin Reid was on hand for the final touch. Ellon came more into the fray in the second quarter but failed to convert any of their penalty corners.

Grammar might have doubled their lead but veteran Stephen Mair`s legs left him short of a simple tap-in. But with three minutes to go Ellon got a deserved equaliser on the counter-attack.

Grammar`s James Williams summed up: “It has been a pleasure and a real privilege to play hockey during these difficult times. Both teams look forward to the new year with optimism.”

Scottish Hockey Union media release

MHL debut for Sabah's men

By Jugjet Singh

SHA president Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh. -- Bernama

THE Sabah HA (SHA) are spending about RM550,000 on their teams bound for the men and women's Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) on Jan 14-Feb 28.

The sum will cover allowances and expenses for flights and lodging.

SHA president Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh said the association have received RM100,000 from the state while the remainder is from private sponsors.

"Our women's team will be playing in their second MHL, while the men are making their debut," said Anil Jeet.

However, men's coach I. Vickneswaran will not have the best Sabah-born players in his squad as they have joined other teams, including Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), who have offered attractive perks.

"Our best players are with other clubs who have offered higher allowances.

"But that is not a problem as we have up-and-coming charges, who we want to develop into better players."

Former national junior coach Yahya Atan will handle the women's team.

Sabah have been making steady progress since winning the men's competition at the 2018 Malaysia Games, and players like Shello Silverius, Abdul Khaliq Hamirin and Adrian Andy are now in demand.

New Straits Times

Hockey Australia chief executive Favier commits to "necessary action" on completion of inquiry into "toxic" culture

By Nancy Gillen

Hockey Australia chief executive Matt Favier committed to "take the necessary action" after allegations of a "toxic" culture ©Sport Australia

Hockey Australia chief executive Matt Favier committed to "take the necessary action" once the inquiry into allegations of a "toxic" culture has been completed.

An independent inquiry into allegations of a "toxic" culture within women's hockey in Australia was launched in November by the governing body.

The inquiry was launched amid claims that around half of the Australian women's hockey squad were considering a strike, just months before the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The axing of 2019 International Hockey Federation goalkeeper of the year Rachael Lynch and former captain Georgina Morgan from the 2021 squad was cited as a key reason.

It has been reported the Australian side, ranked second in the world, have grown increasingly frustrated and angry at officials, including high-performance director Toni Cumpston.

In comments to Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Favier backed Cumpston.

"In all sports there are tensions from time to time between leaders and players," he said.

"Toni is highly experienced and has a strong background in hockey.

"I think she provides excellent leadership in my opinion, but that’s not to say everybody will agree."

There were also individual complaints of bullying, body-shaming, the development of serious eating disorders and unfair team selections.

Matt Favier backed Hockey Australia high-performance director Toni Cumpston ©Hockey Australia

Favier claimed he was restricted by what he could say on the individual complaints, but touched on the bullying allegations and said Hockey Australia would "take the necessary action."

"It can be difficult providing feedback to players along the way," he said.

"One of the challenges we are dealing with is having a high-performance conversation with the idea of supporting player development and seeking improvement while being careful not to confuse that with allegations of bullying levelled towards us.

"We have to also bear in mind we’re in an elite high-performance group.

"Sometimes, there can be some confusion along the way.

"There are fine lines we have to be careful to navigate - we’ve attempted to be very sensitive to this particular matter.

"It’s not to say we’ve got it right.

"The inquiry will uncover the details and the Board is committed to acting on all the recommendations.

“We care about the players and the impact this is having on them.

"All players - the good and the bad.

"And we’ll take the necessary action once the report is complete."

Members of the Australian women's hockey team are allegedly considering strike action due to the "toxic" culture ©Getty Images

Favier added there was confusion about the complaints and the era they related to, with the staff surrounding the Australian women's hockey team only in place since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.  

"I believe some of the comments made relate to previous cycles," Favier said.

"We’ve taken significant steps since Rio where there was absolutely a range of concerning behaviour by the leadership and coaching team.

"We acted on the recommendations that came out of that review."

It was recently reported that Hockey Australia had been aware of concerns from members of their women's squad regarding the leadership of the team as far back as 2017.

Richard Redman, the manager of the Australian Institute of Sport's conduct and professionalism team, is leading the inquiry with Adam Carrel, a partner at Ernst & Young.

Findings and recommendations are reportedly expected by early February.

Australia has won three Olympic gold medals in women's hockey, the last coming on home soil at Sydney 2000.

The Hockeyroos also finished second in the inaugural edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2019.

Australia booked a place at Tokyo 2020, postponed to next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, through the Olympic qualifiers.

Inside the Games

Break from camp to help Indian women’s hockey team mentally recharge: Sjoerd Marijne

Despite the lack of competitive exposure, Dutch head is happy with the progress the team has made in a long camp inside an intense bio bubble.

By Naveen Peter ·

Break from camp to help Indian women’s hockey team mentally recharge: Sjoerd Marijne

Despite spending most of the year at the national camp without any competitive exposure, head coach of the Indian hockey women’s team, Sjoerd Marijne, believes the team is on track to begin the Olympic year well.

Speaking to Hockey India a day before he left for the Netherlands for a Christmas break, Sjoerd Marijne said that the Indian women had achieved the goals that they set for themselves during a testing period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of our goals was improving fitness and that worked out very well,” the Dutchman said. “In the past few weeks, we also worked with the junior men’s team in a few sessions to test our speed and handling skills, and I am happy with the progress we have made as a group.

“We have done well so far in utilising this time and our primary focus is the Olympics. We are hopeful of playing good matches early next year that will show where we stand and we can plan the months leading up to the Games keeping in mind the areas that require improvement basis our performance in these tours,” Marijne explained.

The Indian hockey women’s team has been training inside a bio-bubble at the Sports Authority of India campus in Bengaluru. Photo: Hockey India

With the camp being held in a biosecure bubble at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru, the Indian hockey team was cut off from the outside world for the majority of the year. Though there were fears of how this would affect the team’s preparations, Sjoerd Marijne was happy with what he saw.

“The players have worked very hard these past four and half months and they have done it without complaining about anything -- be it living in a bio bubble with zero outside interaction or to be living away from their families for so long,” said the 46-year-old Marijne, who is also a motivational speaker.

I am extremely happy with the attitude they have shown these past four months and I understand that the training camp was physically and mentally quite challenging. This break will be especially good to recover from mental fatigue.”

While the head coach wants his team to enjoy the break, there’s some work that the girls will carry home as well.

“I would want the players to enjoy time with their family and follow the precautions when they meet people and socialise because the pandemic is still not over,” Marijne said.

“They have all been given some homework to do as well because this break is part of our training schedule except, they won't be using the stick and the ball.”

Olympic Channel

Fast and furious, why Dhanraj Pillay was SV Sunil's ultimate sporting hero

One of India's all-time best hockey stars, Dhanraj Pillay's pace, trickery and passing qualities blew away a young and upcoming SV Sunil.

By Rahul Venkat

For Indian hockey fans of the generation gone by, Dhanraj Pillay was the epitome of stardom.

With a hockey stick in hand, Pillay was a mesmerising figure and a wizard on the field. He stood out for the incredible pace with which he made his way from one end of the pitch to the other, the ease with which he controlled the ball, his ability to find the perfect pass, and of course, his finishing.

Dhanraj Pillay was also the first hockey player to receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the country’s highest sporting honour, in 2000.

It is easy to see why Dhanraj Pillay was India’s favourite and Indian hockey team winger SV Sunil counts among his biggest fans.

“I first watched him play on TV during the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and was left awestruck by his skills,” SV Sunil told the Olympic Channel.

“I also watched him play at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. So, Dhanraj anna (elder brother) was without a doubt my role model growing up.

An authoritative aura

Sunil picked the perfect moment to watch Dhanraj Pillay play for the first time at the 1998 Asian Games.

Pillay, who was captain of the Indian hockey team in Bangkok, enjoyed one of his best campaigns, ending the event as the top-scorer and leading India to a first Asian Games gold since 1966, which also came at Bangkok, Thailand.

Dhanraj Pillay was arguably at the peak of his prowess and for a then nine-year-old SV Sunil, the thrill he experienced watching Pillay play was unparalleled.

“Just the way he carried the ball was such a joy to watch. And his explosive running style was another thing I enjoyed,” reminisced Sunil.

“He was able to pick passes with so much ease and those aspects really attracted me. He was the best player I have watched play.”

The renowned attacking abilities of Dhanraj Pillay inspired SV Sunil when the youngster embarked on his own hockey career and the choice to hone his skills as a winger was a foregone conclusion.

Aggressive on-field, funny off it

After a 16-year international career, Dhanraj Pillay hung up his boots at the age of 36 in 2004, retiring as the only player to appear in four Olympics, four Asian Games, four Champions Trophy and four World Cups.

Unfortunately for SV Sunil, he was unable to share the field with his hero as he made his debut for the Indian hockey team in 2007, three years after Pillay retired.

However, a first interaction was not far away, and Sunil remembers how warmly Pillay greeted him.

“I still remember when I first met him, I could not believe my eyes. I could hardly speak but Dhanraj anna came up to me and spoke very nicely. I cannot express how happy I felt then,” said Sunil.

The two have had multiple interactions since then and while Pillay is remembered as a no-nonsense player during his prime, SV Sunil has quite a different image of him now.

“When I saw him play, he was quite aggressive but off the field, he is a funny and jovial person. He will crack a few jokes, is very friendly with everyone and just a joy to be around,” revealed Sunil.

Now a senior member of the Indian hockey team, SV Sunil is eyeing a third Olympics in Tokyo. A medal in Japan will not only be perfect way to sign off but pay tribute to his hero, who never won an Olympic medal in a glittering career.

Olympic Channel

High fives is the hope as Hockey's latest version gets going


Big things, they say, come in small packages. Whether such an adage would apply to Hockey 5s remains to be seen. However the version of the sport for which there has been a mixed reaction received a boost with the announcement of the World Cup and the invitation by the FIH for bids for the inaugural editions (men and women) of the competition planned for 2023.

Much of the world body’s keenness for the five-a-side version of the sport allegedly stems from the threat hanging over hockey’s Olympic future although the FIH emphatically refutes such fears and backs its 11-a-side version to continue its presence at the Games.

Intense contest was witnessed in the Asian Youth Olympics Qualifier 2018

With the population at the Olympic village bursting at the seams and costs skyrocketing, Hockey Fives would more than halve the demand of space and resources at the Games thereby increasing the chances of the sport retaining its Olympic spot – albeit in another avatar.

The thought of Hockey Fives at the Olympics drew outrage from some sections of the global fraternity but there were a few eminent names – like five time FIH Player of the Year, Australian Jamie Dwyer — who threw his weight behind the concept. “Having some form of hockey at the Olympics rather than none at all” was his viewpoint. And it does make a lot of sense.

For the moment, 11-a-side hockey will continue to be played at the 2024 Paris Olympics and by all accounts and impressions the 2028 Los Angeles Games as well. But viewing the future of the sport beyond that would need crystal gazing.

The FIH suggests that its resolve to institutionalize Hockey 5s is inspired by pushing the frontiers of the sport – much like T20 cricket. And much to the world body’s glee, 5s has been a hit at the Youth Olympic Games in both Nanjing (China) 2014 and Buenos Aires (Argentina) 2018.

The version, as the theory goes, played on approximately half the dimension of the standard 11-a-side pitch is ideal to draw more nations into the fold.

4th Hockey India 5-a-side Senior National Championship was held last year at Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh)

With less demand on space and associated costs of artificial turf and fewer players on the pitch, nations struggling to promote hockey would be better placed to do so. For that matter, the FIH hopes, the sport could spread its wings and enter unchartered territory.

Some of the results at the Youth Olympics could lend credence to this notion. At the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics, Zambia crushed Germany 8-1 and South Africa put it across Australia 6-5. The Aussies eventually won the gold medal but not before a shootout against Canada. In the girls’ section, Uruguay got the better New Zealand and Australia 6-3 and 6-2 respectively and in the final, China overcame the Netherlands via the shootout to claim gold.

Then, in the 2018 Youth Games, Zambia beat Australia 6-4 en route to finishing fourth in the tournament while Malaysia won the boys’ gold medal beating fancied India 4-2 in the final to bring up their first global title at any level.

Side boards are one of the salient features of the Hockey 5s field

The features of the 5s may come across as radical. The absence of the striking circle is seen as ludicrous to some and maybe dangerous as well as this version of the game permits goals to be scored from anywhere on a pitch admeasuring 55m x 41.70m. A full blooded rising hit from the opponent’s half could reach a dangerous height at the extreme end of the pitch and is a grey area that needs attention.

Boards on the sidelines and touchline brings in the “sixth player” concept akin to ice hockey and promises fewer stoppages and unrelenting action during two sessions of play of 10 minutes duration each.

In a nutshell, a version that is ostensibly simpler and more transparent than the esoteric-to-many traditional 11-a-side form could be the Hockey 5s ultimate selling power.

In its wake, hockey could successfully reach out to, not only fans within the community but to curious outsiders, broadening the base which the sport desperately needs to substantiate its claim of being global.

Even as the 11-a-side version of the game has taken rapid strides to raise its spectator and TV appeal, impediments to this end continue to exist.

The “no-offside” era has resulted in annoying overcrowding of the circle and the maze of sticks and feet obscures action thereby vexing both the aficionado and members of the general public who turn up to watch hockey either by persuasion or curiosity.

The Hockey 5s, by its very nature, presents a more frequent and clearer sight of the ball. The licence to score from anywhere on the pitch reduces the possibility of crowding in the goal area. In turn, that results in action in the business area of the pitch being viewed clearly be it from the stands or on TV screens in the living room.

In India, Hockey 5s progress has been scratchy and it’s perceived that a version restraining participation by half meets with little enthusiasm, given that the sport is a vehicle for employment and progress among its young adherents.

For all that, a World Cup in India would be well received if marketed well and held at a centre where the sport has a healthy following. There is no information coming through at the moment from Hockey India about its intention or lack of it to bid for the 2023 World Cup – men or women or both.

A sincere bid reinforced by an excellent marketing and organizational plan in an Indian setting would be just the fillip the Hockey 5s movement needs.


Hockey doyens visit coaching camp in Jalandhar

Commissioner of Police Bhullar shares his experience with players

Commissioner of Police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar interacts with hockey players in Jalandhar.

Ever since a coaching camp has been started in the city, various hockey doyens have visited the camp to encourage the budding players there.

Commissioner of Police, Jalandhar Gurpreet Singh Bhullar also shared his life experiences of hockey with the buddying players attending ongoing Surjit Hockey Coaching Camp and motivated them.

Apart from him, Olympian Padam Shri Pargat Singh, Olympian Gundeep Kumar, Olympian Harpreet Singhal Mander, international player Daljit Singh and Olympian Sanjeev Kumar dang have already visited and interacted with the players.

On the completion of the 80th day of the ongoing coaching camp at the local Surjit Hockey Stadium, Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, a national level hockey player of his time, joined the hockey camp. Remembering his time at Anda Camp (Egg Camp), he said he too had learned hockey by participating in such camps. He said he was always proud to be a hockey player.

He further said the Surjit Hockey Society was organising India's grade-I hockey tournament for the past 37 years and had also started a hockey coaching camp for the children in the age group of 14 and 19 years, which will make a significant contribution in the promotion of hockey in state as well as to the Indian hockey.

The Tribune

Hall of Fame - Kathleen Partridge

Heralding from NSW, Kathleen’s finest hockey moment came when she won Olympic gold at the 1988 Games in Seoul.

Making her debut in June 1985 against the USA in a Four Nations Tournament in Amsterdam, Kathleen was a fast, skilled keeper with excellent technical skills and a mainstay of Australia’s defence as it emerged as one of the greatest teams in the world.

She was also a respected leader, serving as vice-captain at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where the Hockeyroos placed fifth. All up, Kathleen made 65 appearances for the Hockeyroos.

Post playing, Kathleen turned her attention to coaching, becoming one of the most astute goalkeeping coaches in the world. She was part of the coaching staff of the Hockeyroos’ Olympic gold medal teams in 1996 and 2000 and has also written a popular book about playing as keeper.

Kathleen’s induction into the Hockey Australia Hall of Fame was ratified in 2018.

What she said...
“Being inducted into Hockey Australia’s Hall of Fame is indeed an honour. To be considered in the same class as those luminaries who have gone before me is humbling. I have gained so much from playing and coaching hockey; it has offered me extraordinary opportunities and challenges and for that I am truly grateful.

For my part, winning an Olympic Gold medal was the culmination of a team’s years of hard work and dedication. The skills acquired on that journey helped form the blue print of my approach to other endeavours in my life. Being appointed to coach the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras goalkeepers over a number of years challenged me in different ways and I get such satisfaction in passing on my knowledge to all goalkeepers I have had the pleasure of coaching. Thank you to the many people who have helped and supported me on my hockey pilgrimage. Hockey is such a marvelous game, offering so much more than the final score.” Kathleen Partridge

Hockey timeline
1985 Five Nations Tournament
1985 ESANDA Test Series v England
1986 ESANDA International
1988 Bicentennial Tournament
1988 Olympics Games (Gold Medal)
1991 Test Series v Korea
1991 Test Series v Spain
1991 Champions Trophy (Gold Medal)
1992 Test Series v New Zealand
1992 Olympic Games

Hockey Australia media release

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